In-Custody Deaths Worry B.C. Civil Liberties Group

Thursday, September 02, 2010 at 14:31



Three in-custody deaths in 10 months have prompted some hard questions to be asked of the Saskatoon Police Service.


Last September, Christopher Hiebert died while in police custody.


In July, a member of the Mistawasis First Nation also died suddenly.


19-year-old Brandon Daniels was picked up by officers on suspicions he was intoxicated.


He was taken to cells, but was later rushed to hospital where he died.


His mother says Daniels had a condition that could make it appear as though he was intoxicated when really he wasn’t.


A 46-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, died a few weeks later — also in a police cell.


The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has written a letter to the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission about the situation.


Association director David Eby says not only has there been a large number of deaths in a relatively short period of time, the deaths are linked by the police’s failure to ensure urgent medical attention was provided.


The association says it wants a civilian body to oversee the probe into the deaths.


The chief of the Saskatoon Police Service, Clive Weighill, insists a transparent and accountable investigation will take place.


Weighill notes the RCMP has overseen the last three investigations, and he’s satisfied they will get a full look at what’s happening.


He also says the police service has taken steps to reduce the number of people who may be intoxicated getting taken to their cells.


In addition, Weighill says if someone in the cells gets sick to their stomach, a paramedic will be brought in to assess them.


He also says video monitoring has been installed in the cells, and a commissionaire checks on prisoners every 10 minutes.